another baby cured of HIV?

Back in March of last year, it was announced that a baby had been cured from HIV, thanks to early and aggressive antiretroviral treatements. Now, we have a second case of it happening.

From Popular Science:

…[A] Los Angeles-born child infected through its mother was treated with the drugs four hours after its birth, last April. Now, with the child approaching its first birthday, the virus appears to have gone into remission.

The HIV medication used in both cases is usually part of a treatment to suppress the virus in infected patients, but the illness, in those other cases, comes back after the patient is taken off the drugs

The patient is still taking medications so they cannot say with any certainty that the drug has cured him. But the virus seems to be operating at depressed levels and the clinicians are optimistic that it is in recession.


are mammograms worth it?

A new study published in the British Medical Journal suggests perhaps they are not. From the New York Times:

[The study] found that the death rates from breast cancer and from all causes were the same in women who got mammograms and those who did not. And the screening had harms: One in five cancers found with mammography and treated was not a threat to the woman’s health and did not need treatment such as chemotherapy, surgery or radiation.

Researchers sought to determine whether there was any advantage to finding breast cancers when they were too small to feel. The answer is no, the researchers report.

Many of the cancers found by mammography posed no threat to women’s health and led to costly interventions that may not have been necessary. The study is not expected to change mammography guidelines though.

the polar vortex

Winter and Icicles

Scientific American states that the polar vortex is really just typical winter weather:

In the 1980s, Willis said, cold periods like this were much more usual. In the recent past, they have become less frequent. This is perhaps why the cold seems out of the ordinary.

New York climatologist Wysocki said that since the last couple of winters have been fairly mild, this one, which he called “typical,” might seem worse in contrast.

“I’m sure if people sat down and really thought about it, they’d think, ‘I’ve experienced this weather before, and this is nothing new. It’s just been a while since I’ve had it, that’s all,’” he said.

One of the reasons this winter has such fluctuations between hot and cold, without a clear signal dominating, is that there is not an El Niño or La Niña in the Pacific Ocean. Such climate phenomena will often set the tone for a winter, pushing a certain pattern, like snow or cold temperatures, to dominate in different parts of North America, said Wysocki.

“We don’t have a strong [Pacific Ocean] signal, which means all bets are off for this winter. It’s just going to be an average winter,” he said.

Maybe we are possibly becoming less used to dealing with typical winter temperatures as the globe warms.